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Should we be worried?

 

Moorosi Tsiane

IT is less than three weeks before the start of the 2017/2018 premier league season when champions Bantu take on newly promoted Sefotha-Fotha at Setsoto Stadium on 26 August.

It is however, still not clear whether Vodacom Lesotho will renew their sponsorship of the league.

At the time of writing this column, the premier league clubs were still to receive their prizes for the last campaign which they rely on to fund their operations since many of the teams do not have sponsors.

Given this background, it would not be too difficult to feel the apprehension of the management at the clubs.

Normally, the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) would have held an awards ceremony for the players and this is where the league sponsorship would be unveiled.

That is why, as a stakeholder in sports, I am starting to get worried about what will happen come 26 August.

Apart from the premier league sponsorship, there is also uncertainty surrounding the statuses of some of the clubs.

Last week I interviewed Sandawana president and owner, Thato Nkone, and I subsequently wrote a story where he revealed that he was still to decide whether or not to continue bankrolling the club this season.

Nkone revealed that it cost him no less than M2 million per year and M200 000 on a monthly basis to run the club.

That is a lot of money particularly in view of the fact winning the championship comes with M200 000 prize money. Without taking anything away from our dedicated sponsors, the whole scenario is very instructive of where we are as far as sponsorship is concerned.

And there are potentially sad developments that could play out this season.

Last season’s rookies, Sky Battalion, were forced to sell their status after their Chinese owner indicated he was no longer interested in financing the team because of infighting.

A Division North Stream runners up, Galaxy, showed interest in buying the franchise but the deal fell through and now it is relegated Rovers who have been linked with the purchase although nothing has been confirmed.

Likhopo also went through a rough patch last season after Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) decided against renewing their sponsorship.

Likhopo owner, Queen Molatoli, was also contemplating selling the team’s status if she failed to secure sponsorship for this season.

This means that we have three clubs whose premier league statuses are uncertain ahead of the new season.

I doubt if a franchise for a local premier league club costs more than M100 000 but what worries me most is whether these three weeks before the season kick offs will be enough for the clubs to sort out their immediate future.

Do we even have three potential buyers with the necessary financial muscles to sustain the teams throughout the season and beyond?

It is really worrying to see teams struggling because of finances and I hope the new coalition government led by Ntate Thomas Thabane will do something to ensure the corporate sector investing enough in sport in general.

 

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